Embracing Simple Pleasures

May 29, 2015

“The people who seem to be most content don’t focus on a time years ahead when they hope to have whatever they imagine it takes to be happy—money or time or a wonderful relationship. They live in the present and take their pleasure seriously. And they create their own pleasures.”—Simple Pleasures: Soothing Suggestions & Small Comforts for Living Well Year Round, compiled by Robert Taylor, Susannah Seton, and David Greer.

What gives you pleasure? A delicious meal, a vacation, spending time with family and friends, getting lost in a good book, or maybe a new high-tech gadget?  All of the above?  Pleasure comes in many forms, and sometimes we forget that it doesn’t have to involve a lot of expense, time, or complicated planning. Small, simple pleasures are more accessible, and taking time for them on a regular basis can increase our level of happiness.

If simple pleasures are so easy to find, what keeps us from enjoying them more often? In my experience, three things. First, we are too busy (or think we are). We simply don’t have time to incorporate pleasure, or we don’t notice the pleasures already around us. Second, we put off pleasure, waiting for a time in the future when we’ll be able to enjoy life more. We save our good china, don’t burn the scented candles, don’t buy the fresh flowers or the good wine. And last, we feel guilty. Who are we to spend time and energy enjoying life when there’s so much to do and/or so many people who are suffering?

If you’re like me, struggling with one or all of the above, here are some ways you can make incorporating simple pleasures into your life easier.

  1. Start and end your day with a simple pleasure. For me, it’s a cup of coffee and homemade mini scone in the morning, and reading in bed at night.
  2. Work simple pleasures into your day as rewards for completing your must-dos. I sit down with lunch and a book after a busy morning instead of eating at my desk (or worse still, while I unload the dishwasher). I listen to my iPod while vacuuming or pick up a coffee while running errands.
  3. Share your pleasures with someone else. My five-year-old self understood this. One of my biggest joys was buying a candy bar for each person in the family and putting it on the dinner table with the place settings. At the time, my mom and I lived with my uncle and aunt, and on my tiny allowance, I could just afford to buy four Hershey bars for us all every now and then. Sharing pleasure with someone else makes it even more…pleasurable.
I hope that when you make plans for your days you make time to notice and incorporate things that give you pleasure. And now, since I finished this blog post, I think I’ll reward myself with the simple pleasure of refilling my coffee cup and admiring my blooming orchids.

What simple pleasures will you enjoy this weekend?

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  1. Kathy, you always seem to have the perfect messages for me, thank you. Now you share bars of happiness & meaning of life as you shared your Hershey bars in childhood (what a sweet 5 year old self!)
    On a recent vacation in Quebec City it was all about the simple pleasure of early morning coffee in a café and sketching & writing, walking slowly around the city, just being there....
    A component for me is to stay healthy, metally, physically spiritually because then I'm not blocked from enjoying the simple pleasures...my internal self has something to do with enjoying the external.

  2. Rita--your trip to Quebec City sounds full of simple pleasures! How delightful.

    Funny you should mention staying healthy as a component of happiness--come back here on Monday for a post related to that topic (shh...there will be a giveaway, too--don't tell anyone!).

  3. Dearest Kathy- how did you know I needed this post? So often I put off the pleasure factor waiting until all work and chores is done and then I am too tired to read or paint. Treating one's self along the way instead of finishing everything sounds like a habit I need to incorporate into my life. Thank you for sharing your way of rewarding yourself. Hugs

  4. Debbie--I think everyone needs this post from time to time. So many of us put off pleasure until all our work is done, when the truth is, our work is never done! Hope you treat yourself as often as possible.